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There are too many things people spend money on for any one person to always know what is or isn’t a good deal. Of course, that’s what makes the Internet so wonderful — there’s on-demand knowledge for the things we don’t deal with every day.

That being said, research is time-consuming, and not all information is good or accurate. Still, when your financial stability is on the line, it’s worth the time to make sure you’re not getting ripped off.

Know What You’re Paying for

Car repairs are a good example of this. First of all, many people who haven’t had work done on their vehicles don’t know you have to pay not only for the parts that are being replaced but the hours that go into fixing the car. Don’t forget to ask for quotes on parts and labor when choosing an auto repair shop.

On top of that, you can use online estimating tools and call local repair shops and ask for price quotes — anything you can get in writing will be helpful, in case your bill ends up being much higher than you expected. With a little research, you can go over expectations with your mechanic. If you’re billed for five hours of work on something you’re certain should have taken two, it’s worth having something to back up your claims and try to work out the discrepancy.

The Real Cost of Auto Repairs

Other than making sure you get your money’s worth, it’s a good idea to research repair estimates so you don’t end up having to drain your savings or go into debt over unexpected expenses. Sudden auto-repair needs qualify as emergency expenses — you should tap your rainy-day fund only for real emergencies, which takes more self-control than you may expect — but you should still use as little savings as possible in these situations.

Dipping into your emergency fund means you’ll need to aggressively rebuild the account, and the more you have to replace, the more challenging that will be. Failure to have sufficient savings or replenishing spent funds is a common path to debt, which, if not managed properly, can grow. A sudden car repair may be the difference between paying off your credit card every month and needing to carry a balance, or perhaps you find yourself needing to take out a personal loan to cover expenses.

If you find yourself in that situation, pay close attention to your credit before, during and after you take on the debt so you’re aware of its repercussions and you can make sure you address any negative effects, like late payments or high debt levels, as soon as possible. Even if you’re not in the midst of dealing with emergency expenses, you should regularly monitor your credit scores and the information that dictates them, which you can do using free tools like those available through Credit.com. In the the event that your car has been damaged beyond repair, you’ll want to make sure your credit is in good shape: A poor credit history may make it difficult to get approved for an auto loan, and if you are approved, you could be facing much higher interest rates than someone who has excellent credit. In an emergency, you don’t want to have to wonder about your credit score, which is why it helps to make credit monitoring a habit.

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